Thomasons was appointed by Nye Saunders as structural and civil engineers for the redevelopment of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s former home in Hindhead, Surrey, into a new facility for Stepping Stones, a specialist school for young people with disabilities.
Many of the young people at the school are severely disabled and the school was meticulously designed with their needs in mind, to create an appropriate and comfortable learning environment. Everything from the width of the corridors to the lighting was carefully considered.
Undershaw was built in 1896 and is Grade II listed; it was latterly used as a hotel before lying vacant for a decade. Thomasons surveyed the building and recommended repairs sympathetic to its original design. Partition walls were removed, fireplaces refurbished and walls, ceilings and floors repaired using traditional techniques. Unique features such as stained glass windows have been restored and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s old study has been faithfully re-created. A 1930s kitchen extension was demolished and replaced with a cafe and catering hospitality area.
Thomasons designed a modern steel-framed extension, with a glass link to the original building, to house a performance hall, hydrotherapy pool and classrooms. The extension is set at an angle to the main house in order to maximise natural light and its roof echoes the house’s original gabled roofline while incorporating photovoltaic cells for sustainability.
Outside, Thomasons’ design pays meticulous attention to the earth-retaining structures and foundations and maximises the use of space by cleverly incorporating the sloping site. Sustainable surface water attenuation and soakage systems have been installed to the lawned terrace at the front of the house, which has been fully restored.
Opened in September 2016, Undershaw provides students with the ideal surroundings and state-of-the-art facilities to meet their learning needs.